Review: Seeking Redemption

I've been putting off writing this review for a few days so I could think about this story with "fresh eyes." I am so close to giving this book one of my few five stars. These days, I'm saving those for that rare classic that I might read once a year the way one of my friends reads Jane Eyre every spring. Just know that Seeking Redemption came pretty darn close.

Seeking Redemption
I am not a big fan of stories where rakes are reformed when they meet the right women. (I mean, c'mon ladies, how often do we get ourselves into trouble believing that fairy tale?)  Nathanial is essentially a decent man who makes some horrendous mistakes, ones for which anyone would have a hard time forgiving him. He spends the next several years doing his own form of penance. I found the story poignant, and Nathanial comes across as a man who is worthy of redemption even if he doesn't believe it of himself.

I felt a little cheated with Elinor's (a secondary character) seemingly easy forgiveness of the wrong done to her, but my understanding is that she is the heroine of Ms. John's first novel, Surrender the Past. However, I'd recommend starting with Seeking Redemption first. The writing is more polished, and it makes it easier to get into the first story. (Surrender the Past.)

I found it interesting that the author calls this a "traditional regency". I'm not even sure what that means, but I will caution those of you who are used to modern regencies — this is not the light-hearted Cinderella story that so many regencies have become. This novel doesn't shy away from the darker side of humanity. Considering the novel's title, that's as it should be.

Site of the Battle of Waterloo. (Those are beets in
the field in case you're wondering.)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
I also found the battle scenes a tad more detailed than typical for a genre that is usually considered women's fiction. (Hint: reading those parts fast doesn't take away from the storyline.) At times, the storytelling reminded me of something more akin to Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series — except for Ms. Johns portrays women way more kindly than Cornwell did!

All in all, I loved the story, the romance, and the history of Seeking Redemption. I just wish it had been around before I visited Waterloo as a teenager. Maybe I would have seen it as more than "just a field."

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